Former AG Gonzales: what I really meant to say was…

September 3, 2009

USA-GONZALES/Say what?

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales threw folks for another loop on Thursday by saying he doesn’t really support further investigation of CIA prisoner abuses after all.

That was after the earlier loop when he said he did not see a problem with investigating interrogation methods that ran over set boundaries.

He explained in a second interview with the Washington Times that what he really meant in his first interview was that he doesn’t really back the decision last week by current Attorney General Eric Holder to launch a review.

“I don’t support the investigation by the department because this is a matter that has already been reviewed thoroughly and because I believe that another investigation is going to harm our intelligence gathering capabilities and that’s a concern that’s shared by career intelligence officials and so for those reasons I respectfully disagree with the decision,” Gonzales told the newspaper.

(Sounds like the rollercoaster ride is back on the conservative track.)

Just three days ago, Gonzales said on the newspaper’s radio program “America’s Morning News” that the Bush administration set rules and parameters for interrogating terrorism suspects and that Holder appeared to only be focused on the 1 percent of those who went beyond the approved techniques.

And then he added that if interrogators went outside the approved limits, “I think it is legitimate to question and examine that conduct to ensure people are held accountable for their actions, even if it’s action in prosecuting the war on terror.”

Those remarks won praise from human rights groups and caused some head-scratching among conservatives, especially since Gonzales was considered a loyal soldier to former President George W. Bush, serving as the White House counsel and attorney general when the interrogation methods were developed and used.

But Gonzales called the Washington Times back on Thursday to say that he actually did not support Holder’s decision but rather his right to order the investigation, nothing more.

“I’m just saying I would have exercised my discretion in a different manner, given the information I have,” Gonzales said, adding that the matter had already been examined and that no further investigation was warranted.

“It’s no different than when a police officer sees someone perhaps speeding, there is discretion in the law enforcement community, given the circumstances, whether to investigate or to prosecute,” he told the newspaper. “And again this is a matter that has already been looked into thoroughly.”

Sounds like someone got the talking points memo between interviews…

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- Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Gonzales being sworn in during congressional testimony in 2007)

3 comments

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I think this is all a false trail lets be realistic if these documents that were supposed incriminate cheney actually existed ,Gonzales would have followed what has been past practice. he would have stuck them down his trousers and walked out,with the evidence

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

First, this is yet another example of the slippery words of Alberto Gonzales. His complete inability to behave with honor and class does (possibly irreparable) damage to the office of the Attorney General. By time and again responding to inquiry with political rhetoric rather than jurisprudential adherence, he does a disservice to this country.

Second, there is a lesson here for any Democrat: even Republican cronies who have left office adhere to a strict party-line whenever possible. Gonzales, as was pointed out, “got the memo” in between interviews, and it shows. If the Democrats in power could get together enough discipline, they could pass anything they wanted. Some Democrats would have to give up some of their priorities, but overall, the party would actually function.

Brian, that’s assuming that the all powerful office of vice president Cheney allowed the justice department access to the documents in the first place.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive